Brazil Meets Freestyle Skiing

The New York Times covers the unlikely story behind the Brazilian Olympic freestyle skiing team

Cool Runnings, the Brazilian version. Coach Ryan Snow and athlete Lais de Souza hope to represent Brazil at Sochi in freestyle aerials skiing. PHOTO: CBDN
Cool Runnings, the Brazilian version. Coach Ryan Snow and athlete Lais de Souza hope to represent Brazil at Sochi in freestyle aerials skiing. PHOTO: CBDN

It’s an underdog story: Cool Runnings meets gymnastics and skiing. Leading up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Brazil made efforts to throw their hat in the ring by hiring a Canadian ski coach to teach and train two Brazilian gymnasts in the sport of aerial skiing. Laís Souza and Josi Santos were both accomplished athletes and it wasn’t a stretch to think they could translate their skills as gymnasts to aerials. Yet neither had been on skis, let alone spent that much time on the snow.

POWDER covered the fledgling freestyle aerial skiing team from Brazil leading up to the Olympics, in January 2014. Coach Ryan Snow and the two athletes were optimistic. They had a shot of making it to Sochi.

But there was more to this story. After the article published on Powder.com, the athletes left for Park City, where Souza took a fall that resulted in a tragic, life-changing injury. Today, The New York Times published an extensive feature detailing the entire story, from the seed of an idea to Coach Snow’s efforts to start the freestyle aerials team, to making a bid for the Winter Olympics, to the coaching and progress the athletes made, to the moment when things went wrong, and finally, to the aftermath of living with an injury. Read the New York Times feature, titled “A Life In Motion, Stopped Cold,” here. It will be well worth your time. —Julie Brown